As every Phillies fan knows, ten years ago this month, the Phillies traded for pitcher Cliff Lee, and their new ace helped carry them all the way to the World Series. There are still miles to go before we can declare Drew Smyly to be a similar success, but the early returns are encouraging. Making his second start for the Phillies on Tuesday night, Smyly pitched brilliantly, carrying the team to a 4-2 win over the Giants.
It may seem strange to compare Smyly to Lee. When the Phillies acquired Lee, he was one season removed from a Cy Young Award-winning season, and was considered a major upgrade to the rotation. Smyly’s acquisition was slightly less heralded, as he had been outright released by the Rangers after putting up an 8.42 ERA in 13 games this season. But hey, if the manager wants to compare the two, who am I to argue?
Ready for this?— BobCrossingBroad (@BWCrossingBroad) July 31, 2019
Cliff Lee first two starts with Phillies in 09: 16 IP, 10 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 15 K
Drew Smyly first two starts with Phillies in 19: 13 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 13 K
Facing a hot Giants team, Smyly pitched seven shutout innings, striking out five, and allowing only five base runners. And two of those base runners were erased by double plays.
Offensively, the Phillies got on the board when they pushed across two runs in the fourth. Rhys Hoskins extended the lead to four when he launched a two-run home run in the fifth.
The lead became a bit precarious in the eighth when Nick Pivetta gave up two solo home runs. But Hector Neris had no problem finishing things off with a clean ninth.
It’s possible that this resurgence by Smyly will come to an unfortunate end soon, and all of those Cliff Lee comparisons will seem foolish. On the other hand, he wouldn’t be the first guy to benefit from a change of scenery as well as a move to the National League. Perhaps we’re three months away from Smyly shutting down the Yankees in game one of the World Series, and all those comparisons will seem downright prescient.